Buck's Blog

The Stream-of-Conciousness Journal of a Wargamer
  • .: Welcome to my blog :.

    I'm John R. "Buck" Surdu. I have two Web pages that contain relatively static information about my professional life (including papers I've written) and my hobby life (including information about rules I've written and my wargaming projects). This blog is where I plan to post personal tidbits, like vacation pictures, wargaming projects, etc. Enjoy!
  • This Weekend’s Painting

    Posted By on August 29, 2015

    This weekend I finished a few items I had started on last weekend.  The first items I completed were four regiments of light cavalry of Burgdorfreuthenheim in 10mm.  These are for Chris’ 10mm Not Quite Seven Years War project.

    At Historicon I picked up some 28mm Pacific island natives from Pulp Figures.  I started these last weekend, because I didn’t have much time, and natives are pretty easy to paint quickly.

    Acceptance Day

    Posted By on August 20, 2015

    Last Saturday Tom (and the class of 2019) was formally accepted into the United States Corps of Cadets at West Point.  This gave us a chance to spend a few hours with him before the academic year started.  We had a VERY nice visit.

    Class of 2019 March Back

    Posted By on August 11, 2015

    Tom in formation with G Co. waiting for the final two-mile march from the ski slope to West Point proper

    Tom in formation with G Co. waiting for the final two-mile march from the ski slope to West Point proper

    Sunday and Monday, I participated as an “Old Grad” in the Beast Barracks march back.  Cadet basic training, or Beast Barracks, ends at Camp Buckner on the West Point reservation and culminates with a 12.2 mile ruck sack road march over steep and rocky hills to the West Point main campus.  This has been going on since time immemorial; although, Beast when i was a cadet ended at Lake Frederick, nearby, rather than Camp Buckner.  What is relatively new is that the Academy encourages a bunch of Old Grads to participate each year to strengthen the new cadet’s connection to the “Long Gray Line.”

    We all received a briefing from the Commandant and many of the cadets leaders on West Point summer training

    We all received a briefing from the Commandant and many of the cadets leaders on West Point summer training

    For the “Old Grads,” the march back began with a briefing by the Commandant of Cadets and the senior summer cadet leadership about all of cadet summer training.  I will admit that when I heard about Cadet Field Training (the summer between Plebe and Yearling years) being shortened, I thought that was a mistake.  During the briefing, however, the told us that in fact those missing three weeks have been replaced with a different three week Cadet Leader Development Training, which is a three-week, Ranger school-like tactical leadership course between Cow and Firstie summers.  I think it was a good trade, and cadet summer military training is strong.

    The old grads setting up their cots in Barth Hall the night before the march back

    The old grads setting up their cots in Barth Hall the night before the march back

    We Old Grads slept in Barth Hall at Camp Buckner on cots.  Lights out was 2200, and wake up was 0300.

    Unveiling the motto for the West Point class of 2019

    Unveiling the motto for the West Point class of 2019

    The night before the march back, the new cadets got to relax a bit with a talent show and the unveiling of their class motto.  The talent show included a new cadet playing the bagpipes while another new cadet engaged in River Dance style dancing, a new cadet doing tricks on his yo-yo, several singers and musicians, and even a Best Barracks rap act.  During the summer, the new cadets in the class of 2018 had nominated and voted on their class motto.  At the end of the show, the final result was unveiled, and while it doesn’t rhyme, it is quite good: “So Freedom Will Reign.”

    Tommy and his two Beast roommates

    Tommy and his two Beast roommates

    The march back begin Monday at 0230 for the new cadets and at 0300 for the old grads.  We linked up at the parade ground at Camp Buckner with the companies to which we had been assigned.  My son was in G Company, so I was able to march with his platoon.  That was doubly good, because not only did I get to march with him, but since his company was determined to be the best at Beast Barracks, his platoon was first in the order of march.  We reached the half way rest stop before the last company stepped off from the starting point.

    Tommy marching alongside widow delCastillo

    Tommy marching alongside widow delCastillo

    A relatively new tradition is to honor a recently fallen West Point graduate by naming the new cadet regiment as Task Force ___.  The class of 2019 was Task Force del Castillo, named after a recent graduate killed in Afghanistan.  Widow del Castillo marched with our platoon — several months pregnant — and Tommy had a chance to talk to her.

    The chaplain brought all the new cadets ice pops

    The chaplain brought all the new cadets ice pops

    The ski slope marked the final rest point before the march onto post where the rest of the corps and a strong of spectators awaited our arrival.  The chaplain’s office provided ice pops to the cadets and new cadets.

    Two old guys and a young guy: from right to left Vinny O'Neil, Tommy, and me

    Two old guys and a young guy: from right to left Vinny O'Neil, Tommy, and me

    Except for a little more illumination during the first — and hardest — three miles of the march, we couldn’t have asked for nicer weather.  It was 63 degrees with moderate humidity.  Despite arthritis and a recent knee surgery, my knees held up fine for the march.

    Tom in formation with G Co. waiting for the final two-mile march from the ski slope to West Point proper

    Tom in formation with G Co. waiting for the final two-mile march from the ski slope to West Point proper

    Tom in formation with G Co. waiting for the final two-mile march from the ski slope to West Point proper

    Tom in formation with G Co. waiting for the final two-mile march from the ski slope to West Point proper

    Marching from the ski slope to West Point

    Marching from the ski slope to West Point

    This was an excellent event.  I am very glad I was able to participate in this with Tom.  We had a chance to talk a little on the march and a little more during the rest at the ski slope to wait for all the companies to arrive before the final two miles to West Point.  He is doing well and seems it really good spirits.

    IMG_1631

    See this little movie of Tom’s company marching onto West Point.

     

     

    Markers for WWII Games

    Posted By on July 30, 2015

    Markers for WWII Games

    Markers for WWII Games

    Often in WWII games you want some number of folks to have panzerfausts.  It is convenient to use small markers to denote which figures are carrying them so that when they are fired you can remove them from the game.  Also, it is helpful to have markers to show that machine-guns are set up and ready to use, because I don’t always have all the machine-gun teams in both moving and stationary poses.  I got the panzerfausts and US .30-cal machine-guns from The Assault Group and made the markers pictured above.  I left the bases with the khaki boarder to make them easily distinguished from figures in a game.  I may decide they are too visible and flock the edges later.

    Completed Even More Crooked Dice Figures

    Posted By on July 30, 2015

    The BEST Doctor and Two Companions

    The BEST Doctor and Two Companions

    In previous posts I reported on my progress painting up the Crooked Dice figures from a large order that Greg and I submitted some months back.  Despite an eye exam yesterday that left me dilated and blurry, I managed to knock out the last of the Crooked Dice figures I had on hand.

    The Doctor and Two Companions

    The Doctor and Two Companions

    Now Greg and I have to figure out when we are going to run a big Dr. Who inspired game!

    Assorted Companions

    Assorted Companions

    Another G.A.M.E.R. Play Test

    Posted By on July 26, 2015

    Any readers of this blog will know that I have been working on a set of WWII skirmish rueles for over two years.  I ran another game this weekend to test out the rules.  I had intended to test out a new system for morale, but after just a few turns it was clear that the new system was no better than the old one, and the players didn’t like to have to do math (two additions and a subtraction), so I went back to the original system.

    I had been toying with changing one aspect of the rules, and after Saturday’s game, I decide to pull the trigger on the change.  I have been keeping up with counting grenades and rifle grenades for units in the game.  One of the results when shooting is “out of ammunition.”  I am going to change this so that when an “out of ammunition” result is drawn on the cards that:

    • For small arms, the weapon is out of ammunition, jammed, or something.  This can be reloaded, “cleared,” or whatever with one action in a subsequent turn.
    • For anti-tank guns or tank guns, the weapon is out of ammunition, jammed, or something.  This can be reloaded, “cleared,” or whatever with one action in a subsequent turn.
    • For shoulder-fired anti-tank weapons, hand grenades, rifle grenades, flame throwers, etc. the squad has run out of that munition or weapon.  This cannot be corrected during a game.  The squad has no more hand grenades, for instance.
    • For single-shot weapons, like panzerfausts, the round was a dud or misfired.  Since this is a one-shot weapon, it cannot be fired again during the game.

    That required a change to the unit record sheet.

    Old version of unit record sheet

    Old version of unit record sheet

    Now the game master just puts a check in the “yes” box if the squad begins the game with that type of weapon and checks the “no” box otherwise.

    New version of unit record sheet

    New version of unit record sheet

    American Paras with Panzerfausts

    Posted By on July 26, 2015

    A couple weeks ago, I posted a quick discussion about how MG Gavin was so impressed with the panzerfaust that the 82nd collected up truckloads of them in Sicily.  Soon after a drop, when the heavy equipment arrived, these trucks of panzerfausts would follow the troops.  He even had the instructions for their use translated into English.  For my 28mm WWII project I wanted to equip US paras with panzerfausts, but when I posted to TMP to see if anyone made the figures, the answer was “no.”

    At Historicon last weekend I got a bag of Berlin or Bust 28mm paras with rifles from Old Glory.  A couple weeks ago I ordered panzerfausts from The Assault Group.  This morning, I started hacking at the figures to remove the rifles and insert the panzerfausts.

    These aren’t award-winning quality conversations, but I am pretty happy with the results.  I can’t wait to spring these on some unsuspecting German players in an upcoming scenario.

    A Couple More Crooked Dice Figures

    Posted By on July 25, 2015

    Three of the Doctor's companions

    Three of the Doctor's companions

    I couldn’t sleep, so I got up at 0300 and completed these figures.

    Two characters from The Prisoner

    Two characters from The Prisoner

    Miscellaneous HAWKs Room Games at Historicon 2015

    Posted By on July 20, 2015

    Geoff's Lego pirate game

    Geoff's Lego pirate game

    In this post, I am including a mix of games hosted on Saturday by the HAWKs at Historicon 2015.  They are in no particular order.  Enjoy!

    David's cowboy game using Blood and Swash

    David's cowboy game using Blood and Swash

    David's Blood and Swash cowboy game

    Duncan's cat game

    Duncan's cat game, based on the Warriors book series

    Noah's ever popular dungeon crawl

    Noah's ever popular dungeon crawl

    Dave's 28mm fantasy game using Bear Yourselves Valiantly

    Dave's 28mm fantasy game using Bear Yourselves Valiantly

    Tank's Bear Yourselves Valiantly "phalanx" game

    Tank's Bear Yourselves Valiantly "phalanx" game

     

    Zombie Shopping Mall at Historicon 2015

    Posted By on July 20, 2015

    Several of the HAWKs and I ran our zombie shopping mall game at Historicon.  This shot (above) is the calm before the storm, before the game began.

    We used GASLIGHT with the free Zombies by GASLIGHT supplement.

    The theater that Bill built for the game even had Dawn of the Dead playing on the screen.

    Mike Miller from Texas was the winner, getting 7 points of supplies out of the mall.  He controlled the A Team, but only Face made it out.